Metaphors and similes are an imaginative galaxy which greater minds than mine have explored. That doesn’t stop me gathering dazzling and original examples to enliven human exchange, expanding the choice of vigorous, beautiful ways to sharpen how we think, read, write and speak.

Metaphor for memory

Metaphor for memory

A striking way to describe an enduring memory, even though teeth usually last longer than a lifetime. In the course of a lifetime there are some sentences that stay in the memory as long as teeth last in the tomb. I can think of a few such sentences in my own life,...

The melody of a language

The melody of a language

A beautiful description of how someone speaks a language, using a flight of stairs and a banister slide as a metaphor for melody. ... and the melody of the French language was in her veins, climbing the steep staircase and then suddenly sliding down the banister of...

The sound of a sound

The sound of a sound

A lovely way to convey the sound of a sound which is both sad and happy.  Then Heimdall took all his keys out, and fitted them into the diamond lock till he found the right one, and the gate flew open with a sound at the same time sad and cheerful, like the dripping...

As complicated as …

As complicated as …

A jigsaw puzzle?  No, instead a complex procedure for preparing an aristocratic meal is likened to a church service, since it has similar constituent parts. ... their meals were made as complicated as a church service, with all sorts of cloths, glasses, cutlery and...

As brisk as …

As brisk as …

A simile itself telegraphically brisk, with monosyllabic alliteration thrown in.  New Year, new start, so tomorrow I will set about my tasks in this busy mode. Parson Adams, who was as brisk as a bee ... Source: Henry Fielding, Joseph Andrews (Harmondsworth: Penguin,...

Like Monday morning

Like Monday morning

What adjective might you liken to Monday morning? Something real, cool, and solid lies before you; something unromantic as Monday morning, when all who have work wake with the consciousness that they must rise and betake themselves thereto. You can imagine a lover...

Someday the history of metaphor will be written and we shall at last grasp all the truths and misconceptions in which this intensely speculative subject abounds.  

Source: Jorge Luis Borges, On Writing, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2010, p. 45

Like a grove of nettles

An original way to describe a covey of great-coated soldiers packed on a boat. 

The passageways was crowded with the soldiers we had taken on, looking as...

Sticking like a burr

I've heard people describe someone as sticking like glue, or like Velcro, and burrs were the original inspiration for this modern sticky material.

Woodnoth, then, was a bit of a...

Of smoke and goats

A refreshing image for a choking smoke.  I tried to find a picture of goats who looked as though smoke might be getting up their nose.

'The smoke was so...

Waiting for the pub to open

Puffins are curious and unafraid of humans, and very sociable among themselves. I loved this image of their crowding around your boat, like drinkers hovering at the pub door.

 

...

The sound of a sound

A lovely way to convey the sound of a sound which is both sad and happy. 

Then Heimdall took all his keys out, and fitted them into the diamond...

Glowing like a comet

Celebrity success à la 16th century - I only knew of Sidney as a poet and courtier but wasn't aware of his star appeal on the international aristocratic circuit, appropriately...

Eggs like a Jackson Pollock

Are puffin eggs like a Jackson Pollock, or did Jackson Pollock find some inspiration in the designs of eggs?

We recently spent five hours walking around the Art Institute in...

Blue as deep as…

It seems some newborns have blue eyes even if later they take on other hues.  Colour is one of the most slippery elements to describe, so I like this reference...

As close as … (ii)

What would you use for such a simile?   Two peas in pod?  Something else?  I liked this use of petals to signify people crowding in.   Among others things it reminds...

As helpless as …

The wonderful little girl Maggie, in a fit of pique and sorrow, hacks off her glorious dark curls and then succumbs to horror at the consequences, such as anger and...

Beware the Bartle blade

Bartle has much learning and little patience with fools or slouchers.  As an example of that cutting tongue, here is what he thinks of university as a means to educate...

How many lifetimes does it take to learn the facts of life?  

(And how long do you have to live to recover from them…?) 

Is it fact that helps us recover – or is it metaphor?  

Source: Molly Peacock,The Paper Garden (London: Bloomsbury, 2012), p. 63 – click here for the bestellar review of this glorious book.

The thinker, with his metaphors, will illuminate the external world through intangible ideas that for him are intimate and immediate.   

Source: Jorge Luis Borges, On Writing, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2010, p. 6

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